The Holocaust momorial in Berlin, Germany. Picture: 123RF/Matyas Rehak
The Holocaust momorial in Berlin, Germany. Picture: 123RF/Matyas Rehak

Brussels —The EU voiced alarm on Monday as a survey showed nine of 10 European Jews believe anti-Semitism has worsened in the past five years, calling it a “canary in the coal mine”.

The EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) said 85% of Jews surveyed believe anti-Semitism is the main problem in their country and 38% have considered emigrating.”

Whenever communities are set up one against the other, whenever identity politics comes into the game again, then the first victims are always the Jews,” European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans said. “You need to know that anti-Semitism is like the canary in the coal mine,” he told a news conference.

He said Europe had had many diseases in the 20th century but the only one that has “remained incurable is anti-Semitism”.

Timmermans said it is the duty of every European politician of every party to fight anti-Semitism, whether at the European, national or local level. He called for better training for law enforcement officials and teachers, and urged member states to boost security to prevent the cost being “disproportionately on the shoulders” of the Jewish community.

Timmermans also urged Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to stop using campaigns that stir up anti-Semitism in his country.

He cited billboards used by the Orban government in its 2017 poster campaign against US-Hungarian billionaire George Soros that were daubed with anti-Semitic graffiti.

The Soros-founded Central European University said last week it had been forced to move its most prestigious study programmes to Vienna after a long battle with Orban’s government.

The FRA study said 89% of respondents felt anti-Semitism had grown in their country in the past five years, with 90% adding it is especially bad online. Another 70% said they found anti-Semitism in the media and political discourse. Nearly 30% said they had been harassed.

Yet, 80% do not report serious incidents to the police or other authorities, many complaining it would be pointless.

The May-June survey questioned 16,395 Jews in 12 EU member states: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK.